Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Korea is a peninsular country located in northeast Asia, bordering China and Russia to the north with Japan across the sea to the east. While at present the peninsula is divided into the two states of South and North Korea, historically the peninsula has been governed by a single polity since at least the early tenth century c.e. Sweets in premodern Korea (before the twentieth century) held an important function in both rituals and entertainment. The primary sweetener was honey—often referred to as yak, meaning “medicine.” See honey. Fruit, glutinous rice, and azuki beans were also utilized for sweetness. See azuki beans. Some representative confections are ttŏk (rice cakes), yakkwa (fried honey cakes), suksilgwa (boiled candied fruits), and yakpap (medicinal rice). Presently, Koreans use the term han’gwa (Korean sweets) to refer to confections, with the exception of rice cakes.